The Frontstretch: 2013 NASCAR Driver Review: Brad Keselowski by Kevin Rutherford -- Wednesday December 18, 2013

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2013 NASCAR Driver Review: Brad Keselowski

Kevin Rutherford · Wednesday December 18, 2013


2013 Rides: No. 2 Roger Penske Racing Ford (Cup), No. 22 Roger Penske Racing Ford (Nationwide), No. 48 Roger Penske Racing Ford (Nationwide), No. 2 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford (Truck), No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford (Truck)

2013 Primary Sponsors: Miller Lite, Redd’s Apple Ale, Luke Bryan (Cup); Discount Tire, SKF, America’s Tire, Hertz (Nationwide); Draw-Tite, Reese Towpower, Advance Auto Parts (Truck)

2013 Owners: Roger Penske (Cup & Nationwide), Brad Keselowski (Truck)

2013 Crew Chiefs: Paul Wolfe (Cup), Jeremy Bullins & Paul Wolfe (Nationwide), Shane Whitbeck & Chad Kendrick (Truck)

Stats: 57 combined Cup, Nationwide and Truck series starts. One win, nine top fives, 16 top 10s, one pole in Cup; seven wins, 10 top fives, 10 top 10s, one pole in Nationwide; two top fives, three top 10s in Truck.

Best Finish: 1st (Cup): Charlotte (October); 1st (Nationwide): Richmond (April), Kentucky (June), Iowa (August), Watkins Glen, Richmond (September), Texas (November), Homestead

Average Finish: 14.9 (Cup), 8.9 (Nationwide), 9.6 (Truck)

Brad Keselowski

2013 Team Ranking: 2nd of 2. After being the best team not only at Penske Racing but also in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series as a whole, Keselowski and the No. 2 dropped in prestige in 2013, falling victim to a rather potent slump that kept it outside of the Chase and with only one win all season. Much of it could be chalked up to poor luck, but the dream team of Keselowski and Paul Wolfe wasn’t where it needed to be this season — and probably won’t remain together if things don’t change for 2014.

High Point: Refer to Keselowski’s Nationwide Series season. Seven wins in 16 starts — five of which occurred over a six-race span — were a much-needed boost for the defending Cup champion, showing his slump was confined to the Cup Series and that his No. 22 team in the Nationwide Series was one of the series’ best. That streak was his best by far; nothing else came close.

Low Point: Keselowski had a god-awful spring and summer in the Cup Series, beginning at Darlington in May with a 32nd-place finish and following with a 36th the next race. From then on, he plummeted from sixth to 15th in points, killing his chances to repeat as series champion while scoring only a handful of top-10 finishes. Shades of a past champion? Maybe one from 10 or 20 years ago, but definitely not from the previous season.

Summary: What. On. Earth? After gaining a plethora of new fans and becoming one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors in 2012 — culminating with his first Cup championship — Keselowski’s main campaign in the 2013 season was plain above-average, with just one win, nine top fives and getting shut out of the Chase to defend his title.

It wasn’t all bad. He continued his winning ways in a Nationwide Series season that saw him start about half the series races, winning seven times and propelling his No. 22 to a owners’ championship along with Joey Logano.

The problem? No one will remember his Nationwide Series season. Everyone will remember his Cup Series campaign. That’s how Keselowski’s 2013 will end up being defined — a disappointment, despite winning eight races between three series. Any other season, it may not have been a big deal. But for the 2012 Cup champ? You hold them up to a higher standard, and he didn’t meet said standard.

2014 Outlook: Little is changing for Keselowski in 2014, which is a double-edged sword. In one sense, it’s still largely the same team that won the 2012 championship, but it’s also the same team that performed well below expectations in 2013. Take your pick.

2013 Frontstretch Grade: B+. It’s hard to overlook the top performance in the Nationwide Series, but as has been said like a hundred times already in this review, hey, that Cup Series season wasn’t too hot. This grade is about the best combination of the two.

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12/22/2013 03:10 AM

hard to prosper when it looks like the head office has a some kind of grudge against you. puhh-lease.